Educational Day for International Day of Light @ NTUA

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, an educational day for the celebration of International Day of Light was held at the National Technical University of Athens. The event was organized by the Photonics Communications Research Laboratory of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the NTUA, which is UNESCO’s national node for the International Day of Light activities in Greece.

The International Day of Light is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy. The broad theme of light will allow many different sectors of society worldwide to participate in activities that demonstrate how science, technology, art and culture can help achieve the goals of UNESCO – education, equality, and peace.

The educational day was addressed to high-school students interested in following science in their studies. The speakers were four distinguished graduates of the PCRL who talked about photonics and their personal journey to inspire the young audience with the aim of envisioning their own bright future.

The event opened by Hercules Avramopoulos, Professor, Director of the Photonic Communications Laboratory, who presented a short introduction on the International Day of Light and its objectives, and then followed the presentations of the key note speakers:

  • Dr. Nikos Pleros - Assistant Professor, AUTh

Talk title: The bright paths of science and technology

Dr. Pleros provided a review of the most important events in the human effort to understand the nature and principles of light and to exploit its properties in technology applications. Starting from the first concepts of optical communications with the transmission of fire signals in ancient Greece, this review goes through the most important theoretical and experimental studies with respect to the wave and particle nature of light, concluding with Einstein’s explanation for the photoelectric effect and with the light applications in radioastronomy that finally led to the discovery of the cosmic radiation and the experimental validation of the Big Bang. It then reviewed the most basic inventions of laser and optical fibers, concluding to today’s research efforts for exploiting photonics in neuromorphic computational circuitry towards enabling Artificial Intelligence applications, with part of these efforts taking place at the Win.Phos research laboratory at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Watch the video of Dr. Nikos Pleros presentation here

  • Dr. George Kanellos - Lecturer at Bristol University

Talk title: Optical Networks, a bright page in the history of Telecommunications

Dr. Kanellos reviewed the developments in optical communications and the effect they had in shaping the modern telecommunications that resulted in the transformation of our everyday digital world. Dr. Kanellos started his presentation with a review on the development of fundamental optical components followed by their application into real optical systems and the data centres. He concluded his talk with a guess into the future, discussing an all-connected world under the 5G and Internet of Things frameworks and provided a brief insight to the major challenges.

Watch the video of Dr. George Kanellos presentation here

  • Dr. Giannis Giannoulis - postdoctoral researcher at the PCRL

Talk title: The large missions of photonics to an uncertain photon microcosm

Dr. Giannoulis seeked to introduce the principles of Quantum Optics, mainly focusing on the behavior of the light at its quantum limit. The quantum properties of single photons were discussed emphasizing on the main differences compared with the behavior of classical light appeared within a wide range of technology applications. In the field of quantum communications, the exchange of quantum states via single photons remains challenging and several approaches have been proposed to address practical quantum links. The propagation of single photons through via free-space optical links which is combined with ultra-low noise detector units has been identified as the future solution to realize long-reach quantum links. In the context of Quantum Technologies, the concept of Quantum Computer was briefly discussed while emphasis was put on the use of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to fortify the security layer of communication segments based on the laws of quantum information. The participation of Photonics Communication Research Laboratory (PCRL) within FET-Flagship UNIQORN project was also discussed, while the project goals in the era of quantum cloud were presented.

Watch the video of Dr. Giannis Giannoulis presentation here

  • Mr. Christos Spatharakis - co-founder and CEO of Ferryhopper

Talk title: Traveling from Fiber to Lighthouses

Mr Spatharakis made a presentation that links optical fibers to lighthouses, his studies and research with a friends' journey and the knowledge of entropy with choices that lead to interesting paths. He talked about how technical knowledge is associated with a startup and how does Ferryhopper has a common starting point with a PhD in fiber optics? How does a group of friends end up becoming a professional team and how a small gap in the market ends up with a great opportunity and a beautiful trip? How does entropy affect different types of people in a company, and how does the decision ultimately relate to a system's microcosm? Finally, he talked about the meaning of the right direction more than the movement itself and how straight is the line of a trip?

Watch the video of Mr. Christos Spatharakis presentation here

Learn more about the International Day of Light here